PERU - The Peru Central School District has been audited - by itself.
Though audits are traditionally focused on fiscal matters, the school district recently completed an internal audit of its own curriculum to see what areas, if any, were in need of improvement.
According to superintendent A. Paul Scott, the intent of the process was to "promote collaborative, fact-based examination of instructional materials, programs and practices, to help strengthen student achievement and bolster professional practice."
During the past two school years, the district's faculty and administrators have engaged with Scott in a collaborative examination of practices and protocols associated with curriculum audits nationwide. This school year, the process examined Peru Middle School's social studies programs and their connection to the elementary and high school levels.
Throughout the month of February, a three-member curriculum audit team of experienced faculty gathered, sorted and examined extensive sets of program data about the curriculum as it is delivered, written and assessed within the district. The data collected included classroom activities, worksheets and projects; staffing patterns; student enrollment; curriculum guides, teacher-made tests and other papers photocopied and distributed to students.
The curriculum audit team then identified and described any notable gaps between expectations for the delivered, written and assessed curriculum and what was actually found.
"The curriculum audit team offered what I view as practical, research-based strategies to promote continued gains in student achievement and success in the social studies program," said Scott.
An executive summary of the audit was prepared, containing 14 fact-based findings, five recommendations to be viewed as areas for consideration and one commendation, said Scott.
The internal audit found the majority of documents provided to seventh grade students during a two-week period "were closely linked with state standards and the district curriculum" and clearly demonstrated "collaborative communications and collaborative planning between teachers at each grade level," said Scott.
"Such coordination and collaboration is evidence of teachers providing a more coherent, coordinated pathway of learning and instruction for students," he said.
Classroom walk-throughs also provided evidence of coordinated curriculum delivery in eighth grade classes, the report states.
Recommendations outlined in the report suggested continued use of state-format questions on unit tests to help prepare students for the state's social studies test as well as varied assessment strategies used day-to-day within the seventh and eighth grade social studies classes.
Continued engagement with curriculum that involves students with national, state and regional events of historical significance, such as Clinton County's celebration of the Samuel de Champlain Quadricentennial, was also suggested.
The audit team also suggested bolstering the alignment of social studies curriculum from the elementary to middle school levels and middle school to high school levels.
The middle school was commended for its availability and use of information network technology, particularly in reference to its Smart Board projection display units and computer workstations. The technology was found to be integrated into curriculum on a daily basis in seventh and eight grade social studies classes.
The extensive engagements with information technology resources among middle school students and faculty members in recent years has been a contributing factor to achievements in recent years at Peru Middle School, the superintendent said.
Scott further credited the district's board of education, administrators, the Peru Association of Teachers, and several dozen district faculty members who were actively engaged and encouraged the internal audit process.
"The teachers who served on the curriculum audit team are veteran instructors themselves - so their recommendations have a level of credibility with the faculty members associated with middle school social studies," said Scott.